lundi 31 janvier 2011

Tip of the tongue [English]

Le présent billet a été rédigé par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.

If something you want to say is on the tip of your tongue, that means you think you know it and that you will be able to remember it very soon. Now what's her name again? It’s on the tip of my tongue.


Here are some other expressions in which “tongue” is used in a figurative context:

a slip of the tongue: a mistake you make when speaking, such as using the wrong word. Did I say she was forty? I meant fourteen - just a slip of the tongue.

a tongue-lashing:  a strong scolding or reprimand.
The manager gave his team a tongue-lashing after they'd lost the game.

cat got tongue:  said about a person who keeps silent.  After she finished the story, I kept silent. What's the matter, cat got your tongue? she asked.

(to) bite tongue:  to stop yourself from saying something because it would be better not to, even if you would like to say it. I really wanted to tell her what I thought of him but I had to bite my tongue.

(to) cause tongues to wag: 
to cause people to gossip; to give people something to gossip about. The way John was looking at Mary will surely cause some tongues to wag. The way Mary was so scantily dressed will also cause tongues to wag.

(to) find (one’s) tongue: 
to be able to talk; to figure out what to say. Tom was speechless for a moment. Then he found his tongue. Ann was unable to find her tongue. She sat there in silence.

(to) get tongue around:
to pronounce a difficult word or phrase. I just can't get my tongue around some of those Welsh place names.

(to) give the rough side of tongue:
to speak angrily to someone The boss gave me the rough side of her tongue for being late twice this week.

(to) hold (one’s) tongue: to refrain from speaking; to refrain from saying something unpleasant.
I felt like scolding her, but I held my tongue. Hold your tongue, John. You can't talk to me that way!

(to) keep a civil tongue (in one’s head):
to speak decently and politely. Please, John. Don't talk like that. Keep a civil tongue in your head. John seems unable to keep a civil tongue.

(to) loosen one’s tongue: to cause you to talk without thinking carefully about what you are saying. The vodka really loosened her tongue and I found out exactly what happened that night.

(to) trip off the tongue: I
f a word or phrase trips off the tongue, it is very easy to say. The band is called 'Acquired Echoes'. It doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, does it?

(to) set tongues wagging:
If something that someone says or does sets tongues wagging, it causes people to talk about them. His late-night visit to her home has set tongues wagging.

(to) speak with a forked tongue:  to tell lies; to try to deceive someone. Jean's mother sounds very charming, but she speaks with a forked tongue. People tend to believe Fred because he seems plausible, but we know he speaks with a forked tongue.

(to) stick (one’s) tongue out:  to cause one's tongue to project outward. (A gesture of contempt.) Don't stick your tongue out at me!

sharp tongue:  an outspoken, harsh or critical manner of speaking. He has quite a sharp tongue. Don't be totally unnerved by what he says or the way he says it.

silver-tongued:  a silver-tongued person speaks to someone in a pleasant way and praises them in order to persuade them to do what they want (always before noun).
He was a silver-tongued orator who convinced many people to support him.

Still tongue makes a wise head: (proverb) If you are wise, you do not talk very much. You should only speak when you have judged that it is appropriate to do so. Don't chatter about whatever comes to your mind. A still tongue makes a wise head.

tongue-in-cheek:  In an ironic manner, not meant to be taken seriously. Ann made a tongue-in-cheek remark to John, and he got mad because he thought she was serious. The play seemed very serious at first, but then everyone saw that it was tongue-in-cheek, and they began laughing.


French also uses “langue” figuratively

EXPRESSION
EXPLANATION
(re)tenir sa langue -
s'empêcher de parler, par prudence ou discrétion
avoir avalé sa langue -
ne pas répondre quand on est interrogé
avoir la langue bien pendue -
parler facilement, être bavard
avoir perdu sa langue -
rester obstinément silencieux
avoir un bœuf sur la langue -
garder un silence obstiné, être empêché de parler
avoir un cheveu sur la langue -
zézayer
avoir un mot sur le bout de la langue -
ne pas trouver un mot tout en étant sur de le connaitre 
délier la langue de quelqu'un -
le faire parler
donner sa langue au chat -
s'avouer incapable de trouver une solution à un problème pose 
être une langue de vipère -
médire
être une méchante, une mauvaise langue -
ne pas hésiter à médire, à calomnier
la langue lui a fourché -
il a prononcé un mot au lieu d'un autre, par méprise 
figure de rhétorique consistant à détourner la réalité par les mots.
ne pas avoir la langue dans sa poche -
parler avec facilité et, notamment, répliquer
ne pas savoir tenir sa langue -
ne pas savoir se taire quand il le faudrait 
prendre langue avec quelqu'un -
prendre contact en vue d'un entretien 
se mordre la langue -
se retenir de parler, ou se repentir d'avoir parlé 
tirer la langue -
avoir soif ; être dans le besoin, désirer ardemment quelque chose sans obtenir satisfaction
tourner sept fois sa langue dans sa bouche -
réfléchir avant de parler


Sources:

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